SIOUX CITY | People aren't flocking to serve as Woodbury County poll workers. So county officials are raising the pay ahead of the Nov. 8 general election to sweeten the job's allure.
The county board of supervisors on Tuesday approved a pay raise of $2 to $3 more per hour, backing a plan pitched by Auditor Pat Gill, the county's chief election official. The additional cost could run $10,000 to $15,000, but solve a big problem as fewer people sign up to serve as workers for a 16-hour shift at polling precincts, Gill said.
"More and more folks are turning us down because it is a long day," he said.
Gill had first explained the need to expand the number of workers at the supervisors meeting last week. He said a Journal blog post on the topic raised the attention of Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott, who called to offer to work at this fall's election.
The last increase in pay for precinct workers came in 2008, when the pay for precinct chairpersons rose from $7 to $9 per hour and from $6 to $8 per hour for other workers.
The new increase will take the pay for chairpersons to $12 per hour, for a raise of $3, and to $10 per hour for other workers, a raise of $2 per hour. Another component for more pay is that workers who are on the job more than eight hours will be paid time-and-a-half for the additional hours.
That package will ideally draw more and retain existing people, Gill said.
"The election officials thank you," he said.
The rate of pay for precinct workers is set by individual counties. The pay in Plymouth County, for instance is going from $8.75 to $9 per hour this year, Auditor Stacey Feldmann said. She is working to get 80 workers to cover the 13 Plymouth County precincts.
The overall total cost to run the election is estimated at $250,000. Gill's budget for personnel pay in the election had been set in the spring for $40,000. The county will exceed that amount with the pay increase, Gill noted.
Supervisor Jeremy Taylor said he liked that leaders of both the Woodbury County Republican and Democratic parties saw the pay increase as a good idea.
Supervisor Matthew Ung said he noticed a trend that the pay raises for election workers come every eight years, since the last bumps took place in 2000 and 2008. Taylor joked that Ung was sending the message that Gill shouldn't propose another pay hike for eight more years.